James Sutton chose well when he picked this spot for his blacksmithing and iron forging business in the mid-1800s. It’s still a good site for business. This intersection of the road to the state capitol and the road leading to the Big Bend of the Meramec River is the location of the first residential and commercial activity that grew to become the City of Maplewood.
CVS, the drugstore chain, will soon complete its store on the SE corner of this intersection. Despite some resistance QuikTrip is pursuing their plan to build a new store on the NW corner. Unless I miss my guess, we may soon be dealing with some other large business that would like to locate on the SW corner. The thought of all the additional traffic makes me shudder. Perhaps we’ll need an overpass. Just kidding, I hope.
I’ve no reason to think that these corporate entities will be anything other than good neighbors but the homogenization of this intersection is regrettable. One of our leading businessmen once asked me, “How will we be able to tell we’re in Maplewood when it looks like just another of these generic intersections throughout the country?” Well, here’s an idea.
This new construction could provide us with a good opportunity to recognize the importance of this place to the history of our community while advertising Maplewood to the thousands of commuters who pass by each day. A tasteful masonry monument located on one or more of these corners could provide multiple functions. The design could signal to the thousands of cars passing by that this is not just another homogeneous intersection. It could inform the passersby that this intersection, this spot on the planet, is the birthplace of the City of Maplewood. It could be constructed in a manner to serve as oases for pedestrians. Low masonry walls could be used to give walkers a sense of protection from the traffic. Nicely landscaped and with benches built into the stonework, the monument would be an attractive feature on the pedestrian route between downtown and the Metrolink station. This site is located on the world famous and mythical Route 66, it would be great if our monument acknowledged that as well
We don’t have a river or a mountain. Without our architecture and people the area known as Maplewood would be hard to pick out. Our history happened only on this spot. This is our number one intersection with regards to the history of Maplewood. Let’s honor that.